Boys basketball: Wild, woolly and a loss
ST. PAUL — Rushford-Peterson bounced back with force on Friday, routing Heritage Christian Academy 57-30 in the consolation semifinals of the Class A state boys basketball tournament tournament at Concordia-St. Paul.
The win came a day after having lost in excruciating fashion in the quarterfinals, 63-61 in double overtime to No. 3 seed Cass Lake-Bena. R-P, which moved to 24-8 overall, is unseeded. HCA is 13-19 and also unseeded.
R-P turned to its defense in the rout. HCA managed just 13 points in the first half and 17 in the second. It shot just 31 percent for the game. R-P hit at a 44-percent clip and also made 15 of 18 free throws.
Senior forward Dawson Dahl paced R-P with 14 points. He was 4-for-8 from the field and 6-for-8 from the free-throw line. Center Ben Ansell had 12 points and guard Landon Skalet 10.
The Trojans play No. 5 seed Hinckley-Finlayson at 8 a.m. today in the consolation championship game at Concordia-St. Paul.
R-P 57, Heritage CA 30
HERITAGE CHRISTIAN ACADEMY (30)
Sam Frederickson 6 P; Ben Allen 5 P, 4 R, 1 3-PT; Phil Berge 2 P; Taylor Brodersen 2 P; Seth Halversen 8 P, 6 R, 1 3-PT; Jonny Flynn 2 P, 3 R; Zach Richards 2 P; Nathan Crellin 2 P, 3 R; Carson Booms 1 P.
Landon Skalet 10 P, 2 3-PT; Halen Schwendinger 2 P; Peyton Hahn 5 P; Triton Meldahl 2 P; Jacob Paulson 6 P, 5 R; Ben Ansell 12 P, 8 R; Dawson Dahl 14 P, 5 R; Luke OHare 6 P, 3 R.
Halftime: RP 29, HAC 13.
Free throws: HAC 2-8, RP 15-18.
Three-point goals: HAC 2, RP 2.
Quarterfinals CL-B 63, R-P 61, 2OT
When it was over, Cass Lake-Bena point guard Arnold Kingbird was asked if he was exhausted.
After all, his No. 3-seeded team had just been taken to the brink by unseeded Rushford-Peterson, needing two overtimes to beat the Trojans 63-61 in the most tense and taut game either team had played all season.
Actually, make that one of the more physically and emotionally grinding games in the history of either school. It came Thursday night in the quarterfinals of the Class A boys basketball state tournament at Williams Arena.
Kingbird, who spearheaded a hounding defensive effort all game by undersized but incredibly quick-handed Cass Lake-Bena, replied: "No, I’m not tired. Actually, I feel pretty good. We train for this. I’m really not tired at all."
Wow. And R-P wasn’t much different. Legendary Trojans coach Tom Vix hinted that Thursday’s 44 minutes of basketball, which included countless twists and turns and near-death experiences by both teams, likely took the biggest toll on the seated, paying customers.
"I’m sure there are a lot of fans who are exhausted right now," he said.
Cass Lake-Bena, whose swarming and unrelenting defense forced R-P into an uncharacteristic 20 turnovers, seemed to have the contest won twice, before finally winning it for real. But thanks to R-P coming through with fantastic finishes to end regulation, then the first overtime, the Panthers needed to drive a stake through R-Ps heart not once, not twice, but three times.
"There were so many opportunities, for both teams," Vix said.
The first drama-dripping opportunity recorded by R-P came after Cass Lake-Bena had missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw while leading by three points with 19 seconds left. Rushford-Peterson followed that up with a 3-point shot just before the regulation buzzer by Payton Hahn, who had a CL-B defender draped all over him. The ball hung on the rim — almost died on it — before it settled into the basket.
"I got a little lucky there," said Hahn, who finished with 13 points and was 3-for-4 on 3-pointers. "But I knew I had to throw it up there."
The Panthers, who had lost just once all season, might have been demoralized by that make.
But they weren’t.
"We just treated it as a brand-new game then," said CL-B’s point guard Kingbird, the clear leader of the Panthers’ energetic, smart and hawking approach. "We just had to go play overtime."
Both teams did. Kingbird started it off with a made 3-pointer, then R-P’s Luke O’Hara returned the favor with an impossible double-clutch basket inside in which he scored, was fouled, then drained his free throw. CL-B managed another basket with :52 left, setting up another period-ending explosion by R-P. This one came after the Trojans missed a potential game-tying outside shot, only to have Ben Ansell get his hands on the rebound and bank in a shot just before the buzzer.
"There were big shots hit (all game) by both teams," Vix said.
That never stopped until there were 10 seconds left in the second and final overtime, and CL-B led 61-60 following a Raul Washington inside hoop. But instead of getting one more big basket, the Panthers forced one more big R-P turnover.
"They made it really difficult for us," R-P forward Jake Paulson said. "You never knew where they were coming from."
That last Trojans turnover was followed by an immediate R-P foul, then two made free throws by CL-B’s Ethan Brown.
R-P had one last crack at tying things up, but missed a contested 3-pointer. It was fouled on the rebound, though, with :0.3 ticks left. It made the first free throw, then intentionally missed the second. An R-P tap of the ensuing rebound missed the basket, and the contest was finally over.
The loss dipped R-P to 23-8. Its season continues today with it taking on Heritage Christian Academy (Maple Grove) in the consolation semifinals at noon at Concordia-St. Paul.
Cass Lake-Bena 63, R-P 61
Landon Skalet 12 P, 2 3-PT; Peyton Hahn 13 P, 3 3-PT; Jacob Paulson 10 P, 10 R; Ben Ansell 17 P, 6 R; Dawson Dahl 4 P, 9 R; Luke OHare 5 P, 3 R.
CASS LAKE-BENA (63)
Noah DeLapaz 15 P, 4 R, 5 3-PT; Ethan Brown 6 P, 1 3-PT; Arnold Kingbird 12 P, 3 R, 1 3-PT; Jarell Jacobs 13 P, 5 R, 1 3-PT; Raul Washington 6 P; Jared Brown 8 P, 3 R; Mark Reyes 3 P.
Halftime: CLB 25, RP 24.
End of regulation: RP 49, CLB 49.
End of first overtime: RP 54, CLB 54
Free throws: RP 10-18, CLB 15-18.
Three-point goals: RP 5, CLB 8.